The woman at the helm of a Leamington-based charity that has been improving the lives of older people over the past two decades has been selected for this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Elizabeth Phillips, chief executive of Age UK Warwickshire for 23 years, has been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services towards older people across the county.
Having been asked if she would accept the honour two months ago, Mrs Phillips has had to sit tight and wait - with no further communication - until the honour was officially announced at the weekend. She said: “I feel absolutely overwhelmed, really honoured and so pleased for my family and colleagues with whom I have worked so closely for so many years.”
Having taken on her role at the Clemens Street office back in 1991, Mrs Phillips said the charity has moved on leaps and bounds since then. She said: “We had just a couple of charity shops and a few part-time staff - but now we are the biggest charity in the county that supports older people, with 200 staff and 500 volunteers, who give more than 50,000 hours of their time every year.
“Since we started, we have introduced many important services such as handy person, gardening, counselling, care and repair, hospital discharging and befriending.
“We have touched the lives of countless.”
The challenges that the economy’s downturn since 2008 have posed for the charity have been doubly complicated. Mrs Phillips said: “Our income has reduced by half a million pounds since 2008 - at a time of rising demand. But we are looking at other ways of improving our income, for example by opening more charity shops, which are a life-blood to us.”
She paid tribute to her past and present colleagues, adding: “Though I get the medal, it’s really for the organisation. There are many colleagues who have made significant contributions towards services for older people.”
Mrs Phillips will be invited to Buckingham Palace to receive her medal later this year.